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A Look into the BC Debate Team

Members of the Brooklyn College Speech and Debate Team stand proudly and cherish the accomplishments of fellow teammates. PHOTO/ Facebook

By MA Rahman

Published: October 17th, 2018

Members of the Brooklyn College Speech and Debate Team speak candidly about the club and reflect on their experiences in one of the more esteemed competitive organizations on campus.

Meeting twice a week, the BC Debate team looks to prepare its members for upcoming tournaments by arguing motions from a range of issues, such as if colleges should issue refunds to all students in the event a substantial amount of them choose to drop a class. More political driven motions if developing nations should look to China for economic support rather than the US.

“I didn’t know much about the resolution, but I still feel it was good in terms of speaking skills. I know now what to work on and how to build my arguments better,” said Zenab Jamil, an experienced debate team member who felt ambivalent on her performance in support for the latter motion.

According to the club’s coach Trevor Colliton the BC debate team utilizes the British Parliamentary Debate format in which students are split into four teams: open government, open opposition, closing government and closing opposition that are each allotted no more than 15 minutes to discuss their strategy with team members after the motion is announced.

Thus, members are generally expected to know firsthand of any background information prior to a motion’s revelation as internet use is prohibited for members, along with most other resources being generally restricted during a debate as most motions pertain to issues that relate to the news with a sixty-day span.

Colliton, who is a Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) alum and past debate champion, was hired by senior members of the BC debate team who willingly gave up their own stipends in order to gain his insight and expertise.

The return has been especially well worth the price in the eyes of Josiah James, a senior, the vice-president of the Academic Club Association, and president of the BC debate team.

Arguably the club’s most active and motivated member, James, also a medical student, spoke openly about his first time experience getting involved in the club and why it means so much to pass the torch.

“I didn’t think it was for me, I was into studying science not the humanities, but my roommate kept insisting that I go join this club and now all I want to be is overall well rounded person…so that when I’m prescribing medicine to one of my patients I know exactly whether that is really the best option I can offer them,” James said considerately.

Focusing now on his newer members, James encourages all interested in the club to join even his hands are ever encumbering as he continues to work with current members of the organizations by offering feedback to assist many of the club’s more hesitant members typically at public speaking while maintaining the organization’s reputation at large.

“There’s a lot of talk coming from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS),” James said speaking in regards to the debate team’s detractors. “They seem to have the impression that we’re just a club that vacations, that we’re in it to go abroad in places like Hawaii, but that just happens to be where our tournaments are.”

According to James, the BC Debate Team possesses an illustrious history even as of recent as members defeated opponents from Harvard to the US Air Force’s debate team, even under seemingly grim circumstances as the BC debate team faced off against the latter aforementioned team regarding the justified use of drone strikes while a conservative think group, the American Enterprise Institute hosts the tournament.

Most members of the team concur, emotionally charge do not suffice in the BPD system, ‘principles, principles, principles’ as one student shouted to his fellow teammates, would often be and has been the deciding matter between winning and coming close to winning in numerous debates.

“A lot of people can say Trump is bad, but if you can’t go up there and explain why Trump is bad then you’re just giving another emotionally charged argument and in debate this community does not tolerate that,” one anonymous senior member stated.

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